HOMILY OF 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
Prayer is a mutual communication or dialogue between humanity and divinity. It is a relationship between the human soul and God. It is also a means of discovering our true selves in God. Unfortunately, so many people have been praying to God Almighty for His divine intervention in their life situations but have received no response. Does it mean that God does not answer prayers anymore? What is the secret of quick answers to prayers.
GOD STILL ANSWERS PRAYERS
God still answers prayers. Of course, once you know the secret of quick answers to prayers. He made this known to the Israelites: “As I live, says the LORD, I shall do to you what I have heard you say” (Numbers 14:28). He further gave them the assurance that “if you call to me in time of trouble, I will rescue you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15).
Jesus Christ reaffirms this by saying, “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; and knock, and the door will be open for you” (Matthew 7:7), and “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). These are some of the scriptural passages that testify that God answers prayers. For God is not a man that He can lie, and whatever He says must surely come to pass (Numbers 23:19).
THE RIGHT DISPOSITION FOR EFFECTIVE PRAYER
In the first reading, Ben Sirach tells us that the prayer of the humble pierces heaven and reaches the throne of God, just like the speed of light (Sirach 35:17). St. James also confirms this in one of his exhortations: “The fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). This shows that humility and righteousness are part of the secret of quick answers to prayers.
In the gospel reading, Jesus Christ juxtaposes the disposition or attitude of the Pharisee with that of the Task Collector during their prayer sessions in the temple. He narrates a parable to His disciples, especially to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.
THE PRAYER ATTITUDES OF THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR
The Pharisee was busy recounting all his good deeds and proudly exalting himself before God without acknowledging or thanking Him for the grace that enabled him to achieve those good deeds. The Pharisee also went further to condemn his neighbour (the tax collector) even before God’s presence.
Regrettably, this is exactly what some people do. They go around telling everyone, including God, either by word or action, how good and righteous they are while judging others who are unrighteous, even during confessions.
On the contrary, the tax collector stood afar and humbly acknowledged his sinfulness before God and also pleaded for His divine mercy. Hence, his own prayer was answered, while that of the Pharisee was ignored. Certainly, this is the right attitude and disposition for effective prayer that pleases God. It is the secret of quick answers to prayers.
PRAYER: OUR SPIRITUAL LIFELINE
Undoubtedly, a good prayer life enables us to know the mind of God in any given situation. It also brings about gratitude, trust, simplicity, humility, patience, faith, and repentance, which are lacking in the Pharisee. It is worth noting that prayer sustains our lives, without which our lives become meaningless. Even Jesus Christ Himself always prays at all times (Mark 1:35).
However, the right attitude or disposition toward prayer helps us be fully connected to God. As a matter of fact, it makes us God’s friends and friends to others. Just like a fish without water dies, a human being without a good prayer life dies spiritually. As the scripture says, “… for cut off from me, you can do nothing (John 15:5).
ATTITUDE AND PRAYER: A LIFESTYLE
Moreover, our prayer life and our real life are inseparable. In fact, our lifestyle or character could be seen as an extension of our inner dispositions or attitude toward prayer. As the scripture says, ‘the prayer of the righteous pierces the heavens; then the question is, who is truly a righteous person? That is, someone who is humble, and a humble person is someone who is merciful, kind, and loving. A merciful person is someone who does not condemn others but forgives them easily, no matter the gravity.
In the second reading, St. Paul further tells us that holiness is the secret of quick answers to prayers. He reminds us that our holiness can be attained through God’s grace (Holy Spirit) and not by our human efforts or works alone. Even after performing great works, St. Paul still awaits the crown of righteousness from the LORD. So, we cannot claim to be perfect or holy before God, for God knows us better than we know ourselves, even our innermost thoughts (Psalm 139:1-6).
In sum, since prayer is discovering our true selves in God, we need to develop the right attitude and disposition for effective prayer that pleases God. We must eschew any pharisaic (self-righteous) spirit and an attitude of unforgiving spirit within us. When we do that, then we can discover the secret of quick answers to prayers. Besides, these simple litmus tests or rules can be our guide: “If we are conscious of ourselves as righteous and humble, then we are certainly neither righteous nor humble, but proud.”
Therefore, we should always humble ourselves before God by giving thanks to Him for our achievements, acknowledging our sins, and then asking for His mercy (1 John 1:8–10). Always saying our Divine Mercy Prayer. Also, we should avoid judging or condemning others, but always show them mercy, kindness, and love in sincerity. Of course, this cannot be achieved without the help of the Holy Spirit. Only then can our prayers be answered quickly and in accordance with God’s Will. You can read the Homily of Divine Mercy Sunday.
May the Holy Spirit empower you to develop the right attitude and disposition for effective prayer that pleases God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.